Sex, rain, full moon, spotted owls

Let’s dispose of the easy stuff first. I love living on the Big Elk, and one of the things I love most is the weather. November brought 29+ inches of rain, a record for even out here, but it’s been dry for the last three days. The moon is full, and there’s no point in even trying to go to bed, because it floods in through the 9-foot picture window like a theatrical spot. You could read by it. I have, in fact, once or twice.

Now for the more controversial: I stepped outside tonight, and I found myself listening for the spotted owls. I know it’s a bit too early, but the weather has been so glorious that I think my mind accelerated things.

But I was standing in the front yard, and it was WAY too quiet. You see, we live in spotted owl territory. And some times of the year, notably midwinter (so I’m a month too early here), the hillside above our house is like a singles bar for spotted owls.

They have an interesting way of mating. The males sit in the trees and call at the top of their lungs–“Hoo-o-o, hoo-o-0, hoo-o-o, hoo, hoo, hoo.” This translates to “Hi, cutie, if you’re anywhere in the neighborhood, I’m here and ready to give you a good time.”

If there’s a female running around in the area, she flies in and answers with a very similar call (higher pitched): “Hee-e-e, hee-e-e, hee-e-e, hee, hee, hee.” Then the males really go crazy, calling to impress her. When she finds a particular voice she likes, she flies to the male, with them hooting at each other every few seconds, then there’s silence. The other males give it up and go find another bar.

Why do I know this? Many January nights trying to sleep while the owls whoop it up in the trees above our house. It’s a wonderful sound, but it makes sleep impossible. Besides, who would want to sleep when true love is happening right in your auditory canals? It’s a glorious thing to listen to.

I heard hawks doing the same routine yesterday, although their calls are a little more varied. But there was definitely the male thing and an answering female response. I hope they hooked up., even though it will mean listening to baby hawks squawking in their faux-hawk voices next spring. The first year we had baby hawks, Ben said, “If our kids had ever made that kind of noise I would have just shot them.” But I knew he was joking–he’s far m0re gentle and tolerant than I am.

I will write soon about time, but for tonight, I’m headed off to the quiet of my king-sized bed and oversized down comforter.


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